Sunday, 20 December 2015

British Birds launch Free, Monthly e-newsletter

I have copied below some news on a new initiative from a magazine I subscribe. British Birds (or BB to aficionados) is a publication that has something for everyone from technical articles on scientific work, cutting edge pieces on field identification to some easy to read but thoughtful and insightful opinion pieces and book reviews. I find the mix of hard science and popular pieces a very nice blend.

Free, monthly e-newsletter
Many birders with a focus on British or European Birds will already be  already be subscribers to British Birds or may have taken up trial offers. Whether or not, you may like to receive their free e-newsletter every month. This offers a flavour of what has been published recently and what is in the pipeline in areas such as book of the month, news and comment, the rarities section and special offers.

This is a new initiative from one of Britain’s leading birding publications. It covers the UK and Western Palearctic and has been the birdwatchers’ journal of record since 1907. It is read and recommended by many amateur and professional ornithologists, writers and photographers with Simon King stating that ‘British Birds is the gold standard of ornithological literature in the UK’.  

To receive the newsletters, just log on to and complete the sign up form at the bottom of the page. Give it a try.

Contents (British Birds November 2015) pdf

News and Comments (British Birds November 2014) pdf



Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Photographic Field Guide to the Butterflies and Dragonflies of Sri Lanka

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Butterflies and Dragonflies of Sri Lanka

de Silva Wijeyeratne, Gehan. (2015). Naturalists' Guides: Butterflies and Dragonflies of Sri Lanka. John Beaufoy Publishing Ltd. 176 pages, Paperback, 13 x 1.5 x 18.1 cm.

 Increasingly the segmentation between birders, butterfly watchers, dragonfly watchers and photographers is reducing as interests overlap and there is a demand for books that cover the three popular groups of birds, butterflies and dragonflies. Having written and photographed the guide to the birds of Sri Lanka in the series, Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne has produced a single, compact and portable photographic guide to the butterflies and dragonflies of the country. The emphasis in the 226 species featured (148 butterflies and 78 dragonflies) is on the commoner species, covering around 90 per cent of the species that a visitor is likely to see. It is also an excellent book for residents to learn about the commoner butterflies and dragonflies before progressing to more advanced technical books.
The guide is focussed on field use to help beginners as well as more experienced users identify species and provides information on their distribution and habitats. As identification of butterflies and dragonflies require a different approach, the two sections are done as two mini photographic field guides with common introductory sections to wildlife watching in Sri Lanka. The book includes information on the key wildlife sites, general introductions to the biology of dragonflies and butterflies, up-to-date checklists with local status and useful references for people who wish to progress further with their study of these charismatic and photogenic animals.


 ‘Perfect for carrying on field trips. Highly recommended’. Simi Kamboj

‘The different angles of the butterfly photographs makes it easier to identify them in the field.’ Viji Underwood


‘Using this book I was able to very quickly identify a number of butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies from photographs I took on my last visit to Sri Lanka - if I go again it's coming with me’. Marianne Taylor

‘As a professional naturalist who has worked in Sri Lanka, I believe Gehan’s photographic guides should be a backpack staple for anyone spending anytime in on the island. His authoritative and yet user-friendly tone accompanied by just the right amount of scientific information makes this book the ideal guide for both the beginner and field professional alike’. Georgina Gemmell
‘This excellent guide now allows people with a general interest in the natural world or with a more specialised interest in some other group of organisms (such as birds) to get to grips with the butterfly and dragonfly faunas of the island. ..... The selective coverage of species is a strength of the book. It makes the fauna of the island more manageable for the beginner and enables them to reach identifications quickly’. Gabriel Jamie

‘This book fills a pressing void in covering this vital subject, not just for Sri Lanka, but as a representative popular field guide that would typically be absent or highly unusual in a developing tropical country............... Here, De Silva W. has used field experience and the relatively obscure historical references to resurrect and inform the reader about the island’s Lepidopeterans and Odonata – there is a fair amount of updated taxonomic information on families and subfamilies.’ Rajith Dissanayaka



Amazon UK

Sri Lanka
Available in leading books shops including Vijitha Yapa, ODEL and Barefoot.

About the Author
Gehan de Silva Wijeyeratne is one of Sri Lanka's most high profile wildlife personalities. In the words of British TV Naturalist Bill Oddie, no single individual has done so much to brand a country for its wildlife. A graduate from the Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine in London, he has been passionate about Sri Lanka’s wildlife since the age of three when he went on his first leopard safari. He has authored and photographed over 330 articles for national and international newspapers and magazines on Sri Lankan biodiversity, travel and business topics. His many books include Wild Sri Lanka also published by John Beaufoy Publishing and Sri Lankan Wildlife (Bradt Publishers). He branded the Elephant Gathering and introduced the concepts of Leopard Safaris and Dragonfly Safaris in Sri Lanka. He also publicised Sri Lanka as Best for Blue Whale, as the best chance for seeing a super-pod of Sperm Whales on a whale watch and publicised Kalpitiya as a third whale-watching hot spot. His media campaign in 2008 for Best for Blue Whale was responsible for the rapid establishment and growth of whale watching in Sri Lanka.


Saturday, 24 October 2015

Citizen Science - Free Friday Evening Lectures by Ecology & Conservation Studies Society

I have copied details below of the excellent series run by the Ecology and Conservation Studies Society in their Autumn 2015 series. This will be of interest to people who are engaged in Citizen Science projects or just interested in the study of British Wildlife.
Ecology and Conservation Studies Society, Lecture Series at Birkbeck College, London
Autumn 2015: six Friday evenings, Oct 9th to Nov 13th 2015.
18:30 to 20:00.
Birkbeck, University of London, Lecture Theatre B36, downstairs at the Torrington Square entrance.

The good, the bad and the ugly in UK Biodiversity monitoring

In Britain we have a long and proud tradition of monitoring the distribution and trend of birds, plants and butterflies, using volunteers from natural history and conservation societies. Recently, modern technology has led to a burgeoning number of these "citizen science" schemes using a wide pool of contributors, on everything from the parasites of the chestnut leaf miner to plants indicative of good habitat, from swifts to stag beetles. Schemes can collect haphazardly or according to a fixed protocol. Some schemes have been so successful that they are used as government indicators, but others may not deliver on expectations, and taxonomic coverage is patchy. In this series our lecturers look at what makes for success.

Friday Oct 9th. The good, the bad and the ugly in UK Biodiversity monitoring. Richard Gregory, Head of Species Monitoring and Research, RSPB.

Friday Oct 16th. Stories from London: the role of local records centres. Maria Longley and others, Greenspace Information for Greater London.

Friday Oct 23rd. The State of Britain’s Moths. Richard Fox, Butterfly Conservation.

Friday Oct 30th. The Biological Records Centre: valuing wildlife observations in a changing world. Helen Roy, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Friday Nov 6th. Citizen Science in Action at the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL). Dr David Slawson & Dr Poppy Lakeman Fraser, Opal, Imperial College London.

Friday Nov 13th. Monitorin
g hoverflies with digital photographs. Roger Morris, consultant.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

London Bird Club Talks 2015/2016

London Bird Club Talks 2015/2016
For people who find it easy to have a simple, one page view of all forthcoming talks by the LBC, I have copied below details from the London Natural History Society's (LNHS) programme. The LBC is a section within the LNHS and bear in mind the talks listed below are for only one of three sections in the LNHS. For those who live or work in London, the LNHS is a fantastic society with an active programme of talks and guided excursions, offering amazing value for money. The varied activities of the LNHS is a good reminder that Britain and London in particular is surprisingly rich for wildlife and has world class visitor facilities. LNHS

Kat Duke, the organiser of the LBC Talks meets people at the Pret A Manger cafe in Marble Arch between 6.00-6.30pm and walks across the park to the LookOut/ISIS Education Centre, in the company of a little group which typically includes the speaker.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Peter Warne on 'London's Finest Birdwatching Sites – The Wildlife of Copped Hall Park'.
Where The LookOut / Isis Education Centre, Hyde Park. (map) (map)

The once grand Copped Hall was destroyed by a fire in 1917 and the extensive gardens soon reverted to scrub and sycamore copse. However, close proximity to the upper reaches of Epping Forest meant wildlife was free to move in. In the mid-1990s a trust was set up to restore the site and in 2012 Peter Warne, accomplished nature photographer and author of ‘Finding Wildlife in Epping Forest’, was asked to map the wildlife of the park and gardens. It has proved a wonderful journey and gets better with every year. In this talk Peter will include stories of the birds that visit, a kestrel that fell into the pond in the walled garden and the competition for life in the compost heaps.

Everyone is welcome, members and non-members alike, so bring your friends! £2 door charge. Free for under 18s and those in full time education.

Details of the next winter season's talks will be published later.


Wednesday, November 18, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Dr. Darren Naish on 'Dinosaurs and Bird Evolution', talking after the LBC AGM.
Where The LookOut / Isis Education Centre, Hyde Park. (map)

Following the London Bird Club AGM, which everyone is welcome to attend, there will be a talk by reknowned paleozoological researcher, consultant and author, Dr. Darren Naish (https://darren​naish.wordpress​.com). 100 million years ago, birds were merely one of several small, feathered dinosaur groups. They have a rich, complex and diverse fossil record and huge recent advances in their study mean that there is no longer any reasonable doubt that birds truly are living dinosaurs. Dr. Naish will take us from birds' dinosaurian origins all the way to the emergence of the modern groups, including details of our understanding of hummingbird origins and the early history of penguins, parrots and songbirds. The London Bird Club AGM will start at 6.30pm and Dr. Naish's talk will take place as soon as the AGM concludes, at about 7pm.

Everyone is welcome to both the AGM and the talk, members and non-members alike, so bring your friends!

Thursday, October 22, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Roger Emmens on '55 Years And Counting: A Long-Term Ringing Study'.
Where The LookOut / Isis Education Centre, Hyde Park. (map)

The Rye Meads Ringing Group was formed in 1960 to study the birds of Rye Meads, in the Lea Valley near Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire, and is still going strong. So what have they learnt, and what does the future hold? Roger Emmens has been a member of the group (which now works in collaboration with the RSPB, HMWT, Natural England, the Environment Agency and Thames Water for the benefit of the birds of Rye Meads), for the past 30 years and describes the group’s activities, history, and accomplishments​. Everyone is welcome, members and non-members alike, so bring your friends! £2 door charge. Free for under 18s and those in full time education.

My comments: RSPB Rye Meads is a wonderful nature reserve with easy access from London's Liverpool Street Station. I highly recommend it.  RSPB Rye Meads

 Wednesday, 20 January 2016, 19:00 – 20:30
John Buckingham on 'Spring In The Rockies - Birds And Wildlife'.
Where The LookOut / Isis Education Centre, Hyde Park. (map)

John has travelled around the world leading birdwatching and wildlife holidays and The Rockies is one of his favourite destinations. The Rockies in Spring offers masses of fascinating breeding and migrant birds, a great mammal list including grizzlies, bison, moose and pronghorn, and high meadows awash with colourful flowers. All this is seen against the stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains in the Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks which John’s illustrated talk gives us an enticing tour of. Everyone is welcome, members and non-members alike, so bring your friends! £2 door charge. Free for under 18s and those in full time education.

See also this link to the Royal Parks.

Thursday, February 18, 2016, 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Ken Smith on 'Tree Sparrow Conservation'.
Where The LookOut / Isis Education Centre, Hyde Park. (map)

Ken Smith is acting Bird Recorder for Hertfordshire and one of the authors of the new ‘Birds of Hertfordshire’. The Herts Bird Club have been working to retain the tree sparrow as a breeding species in the county for more than a decade. In this talk Ken will describe the actions taken and the results of detailed monitoring of the outcomes. Everyone is welcome, members and non-members alike, so bring your friends! £2 door charge. Free for under 18s and those in full time education.